Tired of catching every cold and flu that rolls around? Constantly feel rundown and lethargic? Feel as though your immune system isn't firing on all cylinders?
While you can't completely avoid contracting colds and the flu, there are ways you can strengthen your immune system to fight them off and support your wellness all year round.
How to support your Immune System
Our immune systems face-off with billions of germs daily to protect our bodies from nasty illness-causing pathogens. As it's essential to our survival, the immune system requires constant maintenance and support to function optimally and fight for our health. Here are a few simple yet highly effective ways to support your immune system:
1. Quality Nutrition
Nutritious, antioxidant-rich foods help to promote wellness across all body systems, particularly the immune system. Fruits and vegetables are exceptionally high in immune-strengthening vitamins and minerals, strengthening cells that produce antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses. Our research suggests that healthy weight maintenance may also support your immunity, as those with obesity were discovered to be at a higher risk of developing infections. A healthy balanced diet loaded with vitamin-filled fruit and veggies is essential for a healthy immune system.
Supplementing specific vitamins and minerals on top of holistic lifestyle hacks can also support your body to fight off colds, flu, and viruses. At times, our immune systems may need an extra helping hand to stay strong. Check our top cold and flu-fighting ingredient suggestions below.
Naturally present in various foods, the immune-supporting mineral Zinc is a must-have ingredient for fighting colds and the flu. Aiding your body's natural healing process, Zinc is also responsible for supporting normal growth and keeping the immune system strong. Known as a popular cold and flu treatment, this wound healing mineral can also be used topically to treat rashes, skin irritations, ulcers, and more. It's an all-rounder, and luckily enough, it's present in many foods most of us already eat; however, deficiencies can also compromise the response of your immune system to threatening viruses.
Typically, Zinc is present in various red meats, chicken, oysters, beans, nuts, and whole grains. For recommended daily intake amounts, have a chat with your GP or health professional.
As one of the most commonly known and recommended Vitamins, Vitamin C is often the go-to supplement when you start to feel those cold and flu symptoms begin. Our research suggests that Vitamin C may be more effective for your immune system when supplemented all year-round instead of symptomatically. Those who regularly take Vitamin C as part of their health and wellness routine may find they recover from colds faster than those who only take Vitamin C when first experiencing sickness symptoms.
Supporting your physical barriers (skin) as well as the formation and function of immune cells, Vitamin C is an ingredient you'll want to get enough of if you're prone to catching a pesky cold and flu virus. Immune-boosting foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and capsicum are typically high in Vitamin C and are super easy to incorporate into your diet.
Vitamin D is often referenced when discussing bone health due to its essential role in regulating calcium and phosphate for healthy bones, so it's usually unheard of when it comes to cold and flu remedies. However, much like Vitamin C, Vitamin D also has many crucial roles in a healthy functioning body and can compromise immunity when at insufficient levels. Responsible for its role in promoting immune responses, Vitamin D is known for its immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties and its vital role in activating immune defences when needed. Research indicates a connection between respiratory illnesses and low Vitamin D levels, implying that those with a Vitamin D deficiency may be at a higher risk of contracting common colds, cases of the flu, and viruses.
Support your immune health all year round by including more Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, such as salmon, canned tuna, cod liver oil, mushrooms, fortified foods, and egg yolk!
A flowering botanical native to areas east of the Rocky Mountains in America, Echinacea is widely used as a remedy to support common colds and infections due to its suggested anti-inflammatory properties. A key component in many over-the-counter herbal formulas, Echinacea is also suggested to potentially have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, indicating that it may play a considerable role in supporting your immune system during times of illness.
Echinacea is often formulated in tablet or powder form with other critical cold and flu-fighting vitamins and minerals; however, you may also find it present in some unique tea blends and liquid drops.
Loaded with potent cold and flu-fighting antioxidants, the Elderberry is suggested to lessen the severity and duration of common colds and cases of the flu by providing support to the immune system. Research also indicates that Elderberries may aid with the treatment of respiratory infections, inflammation, heart health, joint and muscle pain, and more. As a topical ingredient in many skin treatments, it's apparent that the Elderberry may have effective healing properties across many areas of health. Originating from Southern Europe, our findings suggest that the Elderberry has been used as a traditional herbal healing remedy since the 700s CE.
Typically, you'll find Elderberry in over-the-counter capsule blends, powders, liquids, and tablets when searching for cold and flu treatments.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. From exercise recovery to gut health, this conditionally essential amino plays a crucial role in many functions, including making proteins for muscle tissue, fuelling cells that protect our intestines, supporting immune system cells, and aiding liver detoxification.
When referring to amino acids, they’re listed as essential, conditionally essential, or non-essential. Glutamine is considered conditionally essential, meaning your body can produce enough to meet its needs under normal circumstances, but not during times of stress (i.e., injury or illness). Glutamine is the primary fuel source for your body’s lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. However, your glutamine levels drastically decline when your body is under stress from sickness or injury. The result? A weakened immune system. We recommend adding a quality Glutamine supplement to your diet to keep your immune system fighting strong, no matter the season!
2. Sufficient Sleep
Getting quality sleep is incredibly valuable to your immune system, recovery, and overall functioning as it encourages a strong imminent immune response to threatening microbes. At the same time, the body works tirelessly to ward off infection and illness. Insufficient rest and low energy can put the body at risk of illness and poor recovery.
While there are several benefits of drinking water, when it comes to your immune system, there's no reason more important than the fact that it keeps your body clean. Staying hydrated will ensure your blood can carry oxygen through to your cells for your systems and organs to function effectively. Drinking water also aids in the flushing out of bodily toxins, allowing your digestive system to absorb helpful nutrients to support your immune functioning.
While there is no one-size-fits-all medicine for treating colds, flu, and viruses, there's no denying the positive benefits of quality nutrition, rest, and critical immunity-supporting ingredients like those listed above. Achieving and maintaining optimal health is a full-time commitment that can be managed efficiently with the right lifestyle approach and knowledge.